Godzilla: King Of The Monsters is the belated follow-up to the 2014 Godzilla reboot, and I figure if you’re going to have an action film, you want it wall-to-wall action, rather like the recent Terminator: Dark Fate.
However, the 2014 movie fell way short of that as the big man didn’t show up for the entire first half of the movie… so this sequel has got to be a better bet, given that he’s bashing seven bells out of not just one, but several of them, right?
And even though this film wasn’t actually shot in 3D, I figured it would be the best way to watch it given that it’ll mostly be CGI, so at least those scenes will be rendered in 3D, as I expect the cast members will play second fiddle to the crash/bash/smash. I was really pleased to receive the Steelbook version for review, and there are many pictures of this later in the review.
So, five years on, and Mothra is about to be born in China. The headstrong Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), with daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) know how to keep it calm with some fancy gizmo, and one that’s much sought after by haggard bounty hunter-style character Alan Jonah (Charles Dance). As well as this one and the big G, there’s another 15 monsters out on the prowl. Here, we see a few of them – such as Rodan and King Ghidora, but not all by a long shot.
The first movie’s Dr. Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) and Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) are trying to explain to a Senate hearing how we must co-exist with these ‘titans’… and now, I’ll stop listing the characters as doctors, because pretty much everyone is a doctor, apart from the boyish Madison.
Emma’s husband’s, Mark (Kyle Chandler), wants them to kill all the monsters, while the government want to study them – so, this sequel has an age-old premise. This film has classic B-movie tropes. As well as the monsters, the good guys want to open the hangar on their stealth jet to allow in some friendlies, but… the hangar won’t open. AND it needs manual intervention. AND someone says, “Hope you’ve got a big wrench(!)” AND, as they make their way to open it, the corridors turn at all sorts of angles, throwing them about.
After this, they head off to Antartica to witness a battle between Godzilla and Monster Zero, and beyond that, it feels like a road movie, going from A to B to C to witness more fights between various creatures. This lead to a film which is watchable, but also forgettable and none of it makes a lick of sense. One minute, Mark, Chen (Ziyi Zhang) et al are in a chopper, then they’re in a submarine, and all without taking a breath. It’s like continuity has gone out the window, although I’m not surprised.
It also doesn’t help that too many of these fights take place in the dark – as does most of the film.
There’s also a load of environmental baloney about mankind killing the planet (ugh, purlease!) and how the Titans (monsters) should be the real dominant species on the planet, and how unleashing them will ‘save the planet’. I’d like Godzilla: King Of The Monsters to smackdown on the writers!
In this cast, Kyle Chandler is given many chances to simply stare into the middle-distance as if he’s like a movie character from the ’50s. The actor will also be in 2020’s Godzilla Vs Kong, as well as having been in 2005’s King Kong, from Peter Jackson.
One big disappointment for Godzilla: King Of The Monsters is Charles Dance. You normally expect him to be a major baddie from the point where he turns up (one of the best examples of him doing this is in 1993’s Last Action Hero), but that ends up being someone else, and instead, he just occasionally mumbles in the background a few times, before walking off stage-left.
Similarly, Sally Hawkins doesn’t get much to do other than float about in the background for a while, to the point where you’ll wonder why they bothered to bring her back. She was good in The Sound of Water, but for me, she excelled in Radio 4’s Ed Reardon’s Week. However, here, it’s one of those cases where they feel they have to bring back certain characters to link back to the 2014 movie, even though they don’t have much reason to, since the new leads will carry the weight for the majority of the running time.
Also, Bradley Whitford is the comic relief and token fat American Rick Stanton, Ziyi Zhang is the token Chinese female character – and is playing twins for some unknown reason, and Ken Watanabe also keeps changing his mind as to whether he should refer to thw titular creature as Godzilla or Gojira. Make your mind up!
As an aside, lots of these characters stick around to watch battle commence… and surely, since Godzilla is nuclear and full of radiation, surely anyone standing in his vicinity is going to end up with some severe cancer issues?!
Also, I like how Godzilla and the others are simply credited in the cast as ‘Godzilla’, as if they’re a real actor.
As I mentioned, I watched Godzilla: King Of The Monsters in 3D which I wanted to check out, and now, I must be one of the few people still flying the flag for the format. The problem with a post-production conversion like this is that when there are scenes involving people, they feel like they’re stuck on to the screen like cardboard cut-outs. Looking at an early scene in the kitchen between Emma and Madison, the purposely unsteady camerawork doesn’t fit with the 3D concept, and just makes the characters look like they’re floating a little.
Everything is a completely different kettle of fish when a movie is actually FILMED in 3D, like the two I’m about to mention. While 3D is great to be watched with your face close to the TV on films such as Gravity and Life of Pi, here, there’s a lot of obvious ghosting-type interference that will make you want to sit back down again, when you’d rather get the monsters in your face. You can still stand there for the close-up, but just try and put that ghosting to one side and concentrate on the monsters.
The end credits feature amusingly redacted credits mixed with newspaper cuttings and Monarch records, all showing Godzilla’s next moves and how he’s a benefit to society, culminating with references to Skull Island, hence how it leads into Godzilla Vs Kong. However, it remains to be seen how many more of these films we’ll get, since a film needs to make around three times its budget to clear a profit (after taking marketing into account). Godzilla: King Of The Monsters cost $170m to make, whilst only taking $386m at the box office.
There’s also a post-credits scene…
Aside from the darkness of the picture and my issues with some of the 3D, the picture and sound quality is flawless, with all the growling, shooting and special FX blasting out of every speaker.
If you enjoyed this movie, then there’s a fair smattering of extras on here, but they include some short featurettes which could easily be combined into one larger one, but then some studios do this to make it look like there’s more to check out than there is. All of the extras are on disc 2 (the standard Blu-ray disc) and are as follows:
- Monsters 101 (5:43): Featurettes about Godzilla, Mothra, Ghidora and Rodan… and for all that, it’s a very short piece, indeed. They also include chat from key cast and crew members.
- Evolution of the Titans (27:24): Another look at each of them, but a longer look.
- Monarch In Action (32:56): A look at each of the five key locations in the film, including the initial Yunnan Temple and Antarctica.
- Millie Bobby Brown: Force of Nature (4:07): This film’s kid speaks out about her thoughts on Brexit and the potential impeachment of President Trump… nah, she talks about this Godzilla movie.
- Monster Tech: Monarch Joins The Fight (8:34): All the fancy tech that the movie’s government can muster to battle with the monsters, from supersonic stealth fighters to big underground facilities.
- Monsters Are Real (14:18): A featurette about monster movies and why they attract us.
- Welcome To The Monsterverse (3:42): A brief piece also taking in Kong: Skull Island, and how they want to create an ongoing Monsterverse… but about those box office receipts, yeah?
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (5:01): Two brief scenes, but nothing that needs to go back into the movie.
- Theatrical Trailers (12:08): Four of them, and they remind me (refreshingly) how little swearing there is in this film. That’s quite a rarity for Hollywood, these days. Yes, I sound very old.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Audio commentary: from writers Zach Shields and Michael Dougherty (also director) and actor O’Shea Jackson Jr.
The main menu has a piece of ‘action’ music which only plays once, and just features a still of Godzilla. There are a paltry 13 chapters (the last one for the end credits), and subtitles are in a ton of languages which are listed below.
(click on the each image for the full-size 4K picture)
Running time: 132 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros
Released: October 14th 2019
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound (3D version): DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (English, French), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Castilian Spanish, Czech, French, Hindi, Polish, Russian)
Subtitles (3D version): English SDH, Castilian Spanish, Czech, Dutch, Estonian, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish Romanian, Russian
Sound (2D version): Dolby Atmos True HD (English), DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (Italian), Dolby Digital 5.1: Castilian Spanish, Czech, Hungarian, Polish
Subtitles (2D version): English SDH, Italian SDH, Bulgarian, Castilian Spanish, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovenian, Swedish
Format: 2.39:1 (ARRIRAW (3.4K) (6.5K), Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: 2*BD50
Director: Michael Dougherty
Producers: Alex Garcia, Jon Jashni, Brian Rogers, Thomas Tull
Screenplay: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Music: Bear McCreary
Dr. Mark Russell: Kyle Chandler
Dr. Emma Russell: Vera Farmiga
Madison Russell: Millie Bobby Brown
Dr. Ishiro Serizawa: Ken Watanabe
Dr. Ilene Chen / Dr. Ling Chen: Ziyi Zhang
Dr. Rick Stanton: Bradley Whitford
Dr. Vivienne Graham: Sally Hawkins
Alan Jonah: Charles Dance
Sam Coleman: Thomas Middleditch
Colonel Diane Foster: Aisha Hinds
Chief Warrant Officer Barnes: O’Shea Jackson Jr
Admiral William Stenz: David Strathairn
Staff Sergeant Martinez: Anthony Ramos
Senator Williams: CCH Pounder
Dr. Houston Brooks: Joe Morton
King Ghidorah: King Ghidorah
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.